Useful Tools and Equipment Needed in Fish Pond Construction

By Matt Taylor  |  Equipment & Technology

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Before starting the construction of a fish pond, it is best to get all the necessary tools and equipment together first. What you need to build a fish pond depends on the site where you want to construct it, the size of the pond you want to build, and your budget for the project.

There are some essential tools you will need to build an outdoor fish pond, such as a spade and shovel, a level, measuring tape, and a rake. For a larger pond, hiring a digger is recommended. Essential equipment includes things like a pond liner and underlayment, a pump, filter, pipes, and tubing.

No matter the size, constructing a fish pond is a big job. It is good to be prepared! Here, we list and discuss all the different tools and equipment you need to build a fish pond. Even if you know next to nothing about tools, you should feel well equipped with knowledge by the end of this article!

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What Tools Do I Need To Build An Outdoor Fish Pond?

The tools you need to build a fish pond depend mainly on the type of pond you desire and its size. For a relatively small outdoor pond (between 100 and 800 gallons), you can easily manage the DIY project with standard garden tools found at a hardware store. However, if you want to build a larger pond, you may need some professional tools from a local tools and machinery rental company.

The following tools are essential for constructing a fish pond of any size:

  • Square spade with a sharp edge
  • Round-point shovel
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • A straight, rigid board or plank, slightly longer than the dimensions of the pond
  • Spirit level
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk, spray paint, or rope
  • Protective gloves and safety glasses

If you are planning to build a larger pond, the following tools are recommended:

  • A small excavator or a tractor loader backhoe (TLB)
  • A skip

What Materials Do I Need To Build An Outdoor Fish Pond?

The following materials are essential for building any outdoor fish pond, large or small:

  • Underlayment
  • Pond liner
  • Fine sand
  • Bricks or heavy rocks and stones
  • Decorative rocks and stones
  • Water

Depending on how you want your fish pond to look, you can also get some gravel and stones for the bottom of the pond.

What Do The Different Tools Required For Building A Pond Do?

Now that we have covered all the tools you need for building a fish pond, let's discuss why you need these tools. What sets a spade apart from a shovel anyway?

Shovels And Spades

The two words are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two entirely different tools! A spade has a sharp, flat edge and is designed to cut into the earth.

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With a slightly shorter handle, you have more control when using a spade, so you can dig the edges of a hole more cleanly and precisely. In addition, a spade has a D-shaped grip at the end of the handle, which gives you more leverage as you cut into the soil and heave it up.

A shovel, on the other hand, has a pointed tip, a more rounded, scoop-like shape, and a more extended handle without a grip. Shovels are purpose-built for digging. With a shovel, one can scoop up and move loose soil far more efficiently.

Hooyman Short Handle Digging Shovel with Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Construction, Ergonomic No-Slip H-Grip, D Handle, and Oversized Steps for Gardening, Land Management, Yardwork, Farming, and Outdoors

When building a pond, you could get away with using one or the other, but to dig the hole as quickly and efficiently as possible, it is best to have both a shovel and a spade!

Rake

Once you have excavated the hole for your pond, you need a rake to smooth the bottom so that the underlayment and pond liner has an even surface to sit on. Of course, you could always use the pack of a spade or shovel to do this, but a rake is handy for getting the job done most effectively.

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Wheelbarrow

You will be surprised at the sheer amount of soil that comes from digging even a small hole! A wheelbarrow is useful for moving the loose soil away from the hole and dumping it where you want it. A wheelbarrow is also helpful in moving materials like sand, rocks, and bricks around.

Gorilla Carts Heavy-Duty Poly Yard Dump Cart | 2-In-1 Convertible Handle, 1200 lbs capacity | GOR6PS model

Plank And Spirit Level

When building a pond, it is critical to ensure that the edges are level with one another. If the edges are lopsided and uneven, the pond will not only look strange, but water will get out on the lower side, and the pond liner will be visible on the higher side.

This is where a long, straight plank and a spirit level come in handy. You lay the plank across the pond and place the spirit level on the plank. The bubble in the spirit level will tell you which side of the pond is slightly higher or lower.

Stabila 78496 Type 196 Heavy Duty Complete 6 Level Kit - 78"/48"/32"/24"/16"/10” Die Cast Magnetic Torpedo Level Includes Nylon Carrying Case, Yellow

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If you are using a rigid, pre-formed pond liner, it is important for the bottom of the pond to be perfectly level. If it is uneven, the liner can twist and crack from the weight of the water when you fill it. In this case, get two planks – one that can fit across the top of the pond and one that can fit across the floor of the pond.

Measuring Tape

As you are digging the hole for the pond, you will constantly need to check the depth. For this, you need a measuring tape. It will also be necessary to measure the length and width when you are siting the pond.

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Chalk, Spray Paint, Or Rope

Before you start digging, it helps to draw the outline of the pond's shape on the ground so that it can guide you. To mark the edge of the pond, you can use chalk, spray paint, or rope.

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Protective Gloves And Safety Glasses

Digging is hard work, especially if it is not something you often do! Your hands can take a serious beating if you do not wear a pair of thick, protective gloves. Safety glasses are another important piece of personal protective equipment when undertaking any construction project.

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Excavators And TLBs

An excavator or TLB takes the physical exertion out of digging a pond. Many tool and equipment hire companies have small excavators and TLBs that will allow you to dig a pond in a matter of hours.

Excavator Loader with Backhoe

An excavator's arm has a backhoe and can swivel 360 degrees, making earthmoving a breeze. TLBs are like excavators, but they are generally more compact and versatile. At the front, they have a bucket, which can be used for moving piles of loose earth or gravel. At their rear, they have a backhoe for digging. 

Hired Skip

If you are building a large outdoor fish pond, the chances are that you will need to get rid of a large quantity of soil, as well as rocks, tree roots, and branches. Hiring a skip is a convenient way to make removal much easier and keep the construction site tidy.

skip

What Is The Purpose Of The Materials Needed To Build A Pond?

Understanding the functions of the various materials needed for constructing a fish pond is key. If you do not know the purpose of a specific material and decide you would rather skip using it, it can have disastrous consequences for your pond!

Fine Sand

Once the hole for a fish pond is dug, it should be filled with a 1-inch layer of fine building sand. The sand helps to ensure that the pond's floor is level (important if you are using a pre-formed pond liner). If you are using a flexible liner, the layer of sand will protect it from being punctured by sharp rocks or tree roots.

Underlayment

An underlayment is essential if you are using a flexible pond liner. It will add an extra layer of protection to keep the pond liner from getting damaged by rocks or tree roots.

Pond Liner

The pond liner is perhaps one of the most important materials for a fish pond. It is what keeps the water inside the pond. Without a pond liner, the water would just seep back into the soil.

Rigid, pre-formed pond liners are ideal for smaller fish ponds (most are between 9 and 40 gallons in size). Flexible pond liners allow you to build any size fish pond you like, in any shape.

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Bricks, Rocks, And Stones

To weigh the pond liner down along the bottom of the pond and secure it along the edges, you need bricks or heavy rocks. You also need bricks, rocks, or stones to finish off the edges of the pond, so that the pond liner is not visible.

Gravel

While not absolutely essential, adding a layer of gravel to the bottom of the fish pond is beneficial for a few reasons. Firstly, it gives the pond a slightly more natural look. If you choose light-colored gravel or chip rock, it will make the pond look brighter.

Secondly, a layer of gravel over the pond liner will protect it from UV damage. Even pond liners that are UV-stabilized will degrade over time in the sun. Therefore, a thin layer of gravel will maximize the pond liner's lifespan.

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Lastly, gravel provides a surface for beneficial microorganisms to grow on. These microbes help break down organic waste in the pond, make the pond water clearer, and prevent it from getting smelly.

What Do Different Pieces Of Fish Pond Equipment Do?

To create a healthy, oxygen-rich environment for fish to live in, a pond requires a few pieces of equipment. For example, without a pump or filter, a fish pond would soon turn into a murky, green mess.

Some pieces of equipment are optional but enhance the functioning and overall appearance of a fish pond. Let's take a look at what the various bits of pond equipment do:

GFCI Outlet

Fish pond pumps, filters, aerators, skimmers, heaters, and lights all require electricity to work! Therefore, the most fundamental piece of equipment needed when building a fish pond is a power outlet.

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An electrician can install an outdoor GFCI outlet for you, or if you are a savvy handyman, you can do it yourself. The most important thing is that the GFCI outlet is weatherproof! Water and electricity are a recipe for disaster.

Pump

The next important piece of equipment in a fish pond is the pump. Think of it as the heart of the pond. A pond pump keeps the water circulating, preventing the pond from becoming stagnant.

It helps to maintain good water quality by oxygenating the water. It also feeds the pond water through the filter.

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VIVOSUN 9000 GPH Submersible Water Pump 620W Pond Pump Ultra Quiet Aquarium Pump with 26.5FT. Lift Height for Pond Waterfall, Fish Tank, Statuary, or Hydroponics
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  • High Lift with Detachable Filter: Lift height can be up to 26.5FT/8.1M; This pump can more than accommodate your water features with portable handle and detachable filter
  • Easy Installation: Adjustable outlet direction and 20.3FT power cord, to meet different requirements; Flexible Tube Size: 2” internal diameter; It can be worked with filters (filter system) together
  • Multiple Usage: VIVOSUN Fixed Flow Rate pump can be used as submersible or inline; Multifunctional design for diving or land use; It is ideal for a variety of applications in ponds, fish tanks, fountains, waterfalls, etc.

Filter

Fish produce waste, and if it is not removed from the water, it will cause algae bloom in the pond. A high-quality filter is necessary to prevent pond water from turning into pea soup.

Filters help to remove bits of debris and algae from the water, and they get rid of chemicals, like ammonia, which is toxic to fish.

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Water Agitator/Aerator

Fish "breathe" water through their gills and rely on the pond water having healthy dissolved oxygen levels. This is where a water agitator or aerator comes in!

A water agitator or aerator keeps the surface of the water moving slightly. It keeps the water from becoming stagnant and keeps it oxygenated. Ripples on the water surface also decrease the chances of the pond becoming infested with mosquito larvae.

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Pond Skimmer

A pond skimmer is an optional fish pond accessory that is very useful for getting rid of floating debris. If the organic waste is removed before it sinks to the bottom, it makes pond maintenance a lot easier because sludge will not accumulate on the floor of the pond as quickly. Pond skimmers also make a pond look neater by removing ugly bits of floating debris.

Little Giant SK10 10000 Gallon Per Hour Pond Skimmer, Black, 14940172
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  • SAFE FOR FISH: inlet screen prevent aquatic life from entering unit
  • DIMENSIONS: 23.97 inches wide x 31.45 inches deep x 23 inches high

Heater

In places where winter temperatures are low enough to freeze the pond water, you will need a heater for your fish pond. A heater will warm the water up enough to keep the fish from hibernating at the bottom of the pond during winter.

When the pond water gets too cold, fish stop feeding, and therefore their growth slows down. If you want your fish to grow all year round, you need to invest in a pond heater.

A heater also keeps the surface of the pond from freezing over. When a layer of ice forms on the pond surface, the water underneath cannot get aerated, and oxygen levels will drop.

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Equipment for Constructing Above Ground Fish Pond

If you decide to construct an above-ground fish pond, you will find it's much easier than building an in-ground pond because you can buy above-ground pond kits at places like Aquacadabra. These kits come with most of the equipment you will need to install the above-ground pond.

If you want to construct your above-ground fish pond without getting a DIY kit that has everything you need, you will need extra equipment and tools to get the job done. Here is what you will need starting with the pond frame.

Materials To Build The Frame Of The Above Ground Fish Pond

  • New or used railway sleepers: Railway sleepers will help create a more robust structure as the higher the pond walls are, the more outward pressure will be put on the frame.
  • Concrete blocks: If you don't want to use railway sleepers, the other option is to use concrete blocks in your construction.
  • Underlay to put on the bottom of the pond before the liner.
  • A saw to cut the wood to size.
  • Fasteners so you can put the wood together.
  • Hammer
  • Spirit level
  • Chalk line
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Framing square
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Scissors
  • Shovel
  • Speed square
  • Staple gun
  • Tape measure

Recommended Tools And Equipment For Fish Pond Construction

Now that you are clued up about everything you need to build a pond and understand what all the different bits of equipment do, we can recommend the best supplies for constructing a fish pond!

The Best Pond Liner For A Fish Pond

Flexible pond liners are better than pre-formed, rigid ones because they are far more versatile and allow you to build a pond in whatever shape and size you want. There is a range of flexible pond liners to choose from – PVC, plastic, and synthetic rubber.

By far, the best choice of pond liner is synthetic rubber, also known as EPDM. Avoid PVC liners. They are the cheapest, but they degrade quickly when exposed to sunlight. Plastic pond liners (PE or RPP) are stiffer than EPDM, so they are more difficult to work with, especially in ponds with an irregular, natural form.

45-mm-thick EPDM is ideal for lining fish ponds because it will not leach toxic chemicals into the water, making it fish-safe. In addition, it stays flexible, even in temperatures as low as -40 degrees F, so it will not become brittle and rip.

EPDM also has a long lifespan because it is UV resistant. As a result, it is the most durable choice of pond liner, with a lifespan of 20 years or more. EPDM is widely available online, and sheets come in a range of sizes.

Firestone W56PL451015 EPDM Rubber Pond Liner, 10-Foot Length x 15-Foot Width x 0.045-Inch Thick
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  • Flexible for creative designs
  • Environmentally friendly; fish friendly
  • Easy maintenance; lasting beauty
  • Measures 10-feet length by 15-feet width by 0.045-inch thick

The Best Type Of Pump For Fish Ponds

There are three main types of pumps for fish ponds – direct drive, magnetic drive, and hybrid drive. Hybrid drive pumps are the best because they are powerful and energy-efficient. The pond pump will be running 24/7, so it is vital that it doesn't use a ton of electricity.

The Pond Pulse hybrid drive submersible pump is excellent for a fish pond. These pumps come in varying sizes from 3000 gallons per hour (GPH) to 15 000 GPH, so they are great for fish ponds of any size.

The Pond Pulse's motor is adjustable, so you can increase or decrease the flow speed. It is easy to install and maintain, and because it does not contain any oil, it is completely safe for fish and beneficial microorganisms in the pond.

HALF OFF PONDS Pond Pulse 5,500 GPH Hybrid Drive Submersible Pump for Ponds, Water Gardens and Pond Free Waterfalls w/ 30' Power Cord - PP-5500
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  • Smart Design for Small Spaces - Upright design with space-saving footprint makes this pump ideal for skimmer and pondless waterfall installations with an intake-screen that prevents clogging.
  • Flexibility for Your Pond - Asynchronous drive motor can be controlled with variable speed controller (not included) that permits you to increase or decrease pump flow as needed.
  • Built to Last - Engineered for 24-hour continuous use, while a heat-overload sensor prevents a burnout, with a vortex impeller that passes solids up to 0.25"
  • A Pump You Can Trust - Contains no oil; completely safe for fish, wildlife and aquatic plants. **Backed by a 2-year manufacturer's warranty!** With 100% U.S. Based Support and Service! Consumables not under warranty. For use in freshwater applications only. Not for use in chlorinated or salt water applications

The Best Filter For A Fish Pond

Biological pond filters with a built-in UV clarifier are the best choice for maintaining excellent water quality and clarity. The VIVOHOME BioPressure pond filter is a great option and is readily available on Amazon for a reasonable price.

This high-quality filter removes visible debris and algae, as well as chemical waste. It is compatible with a range of water pipe diameters, from 20mm to 38mm, and is easy to install.

The VIVOHOME BioPressure filter is easy to maintain because it has a built-in cleaning mechanism. It also has an indicator that tells you when the filter sponges need cleaning.

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VIVOHOME Bio Pressure Pond Filter with 13W Light, 2630 GPH Suitable for Koi Ponds up to 1300 Gallons or Ornamental Ponds up to 2600 Gallons
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  • GREAT FILTRATION - 4 Built-in filter sponges will remove those suspended particles, sediments, and some organic substances in the wastewater; The inside 13W lamp can reduce the water pollution
  • EASY TO OPERATE - This pond filter is more than simple to set up and put into use quickly; You can turn the switch to change the function from filtered water to sewage through the outlet
  • SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE - The maximum flow-through of the pond filter system is up to 10000 L/H(2630GPH), Its maximum flow-through is up to 10000 L/H, suitable for ornamental ponds of 2000-2600 gallons and fish ponds of 1000-1300 gallons
  • CONVENIENT TO MAINTAIN - Rotate the regulating valve to the drain port, then press the button to clean the filter with the internal cleaning rod without opening the container; The sponges and lamp are both replaceable

The Best Aerator For A Fish Pond

There are several different ways to ensure that a fish pond is well-aerated. If the pond has a fountain or waterfall, they will provide the necessary aeration.

For ponds without such features, an Aquascape Pond Aeration Kit is the ideal solution. This kit consists of a small air pump that sits outside the pond and multiple aeration disks designed to go in the pond.

The Aquascape kits are available in a range of sizes for ponds of all sizes, from less than 2,000 gallons to 15,000 gallons.

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Conclusion

Having all the necessary tools, materials, and equipment ready before you start the construction of a fish pond will ensure that the project goes smoothly. In addition, understanding what each item does will help you decide whether it is necessary for the type of fish pond you want to build.

Consider the size of the fish pond you are planning to build, as this will determine the scale of the construction project and the types of tools you need (a shovel and spade versus a TLB). The size of the pond will also inform the materials you use, like the pond liner (pre-formed versus flexible).



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